One thing is certain with the Jack Blair Memorial Girls AAU All-Star Basketball Classic.
No, it’s not that the Metro team will win, though it did for the fourth consecutive time Wednesday night, this one 116-88 over its Region counterparts before 1,500 at University High.
No, what’s certain is the talent on the court. But this year’s collection may have been the best in the game’s 11-year history.
Start with Wednesday’s most valuable player, Jami Bjorklund. The junior – for a few more days at least – was playing on her home court and, like she did so often during the Greater Spokane League season, she scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, both game highs.
Throw in the most inspirational player, Tiffany Starring of Lind-Ritzville. The University of Idaho-bound volleyball player made the most of her last hoops game, sparking the Region team with 15 points, including eight consecutive for her team midway through the second half.
But by then this one was out of hand, thanks in large part to the Metro team’s advantage in quickness.
“What did we have, three of the best points guards around,” said Metro co-coach Dale Poffenroth, alluding to Central Valley’s Reagan Pariseau (headed to Arizona State), Briann January (Lewis and Clark) and Corrina O’Brien (Gonzaga Prep). “We just kept trading off on their guards, they’re pretty good, but with all the pressure, they finally just wore down.”
Which manifested itself in turnovers, 32 for the Region team (as opposed to the Metro’s 11).
“They were really big,” Bjorklund said, “so we had to work real hard to guard the posts. But we were quicker, and we played at a faster pace, I think.”
Starring, at 6-foot, one of five Region players at or above that height, agreed with Bjorklund’s assessment.
“This was a lot different than what I was used too,” she said. “It was a lot faster than what I was used too, and there was a lot more talent.”
The Metro talent led to mismatches, according to Region co-coach Randy Heidenreich.
“When they made their runs, we had some bad matchups,” he said. “We would be big and their guards would break us down. Plus they play together so much, that makes a big difference.”
Most of the Metro team plays on the Spokane Stars Elite team, which allowed a familiarity the Region team looked for all night.
But two of Metro’s stars aren’t Stars. Mead’s Cassie Snyder, headed to Northwest College in Kirkland, came off the bench to hit four 3-pointers (more than the Region total) and score 16 points. Central Valley’s sophomore Heidi Heintz added 15 points, most inside.
The Region team, made up of girls from North Idaho and non-Spokane Eastern Washington, featured balanced scoring led by 16 from Moscow’s Jacki Calhoun and 13 by Riverside’s Angela Hartill.
For Pariseau, it was her last chance to shine in the Inland Northwest, “until we come up to play Washington State,” she said.
With 10 points, she was one of seven Metro players in double figures.